By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
I’ve attended the US Open almost every year for as long as I can remember. My experience this year really sticks out compared to the rest and for good reason. Some pretty major changes to the grounds were made for this year’s tournament and they seem to be quite well-received.
Like most sporting events, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds has offered many spots to grab a beer, a burger, a hot dog, some fried chicken, and waffle fries in years past. For the last few years, the grounds have also seen a pop-up cocktail bar by the fountain, a seafood station, a pizza and pasta station, multiple Carnegie deli stations, and even an Indian food station.
This year, the grounds boasts a pop-up wine bar, a Heineken beer lounge overlooking the fountain and main food court, and the Heineken Red Star Cafe, which is a sit down restaurant that also overlooks the fountain. Bar 17, which was built underneath court 17 (a relatively new show court amongst the outer courts), is also brand new.
The Heineken lounge acts a bit like a beer garden in that it offers snacks, beer, picnic tables, a big bar, couches, and Adirondack chairs. This is a great addition to the grounds and the spot is good for getting way from the crowds and snagging some shade for a bit. I was able to grab a large Heineken light draft in a US Open souvenir glass for $9.50 (almost the same price as a bottle of beer elsewhere on the grounds), so I can’t complain about that one bit. It was cold and well worth it.
I’m also happy to report there are more seating areas throughout the grounds. One of my favorite spots is the panini place underneath Armstrong Stadium and behind the Grandstand. This area now has a nook filled with tables and chairs for those looking to snag some shade in between sets or matches without having to venture away from Armstrong or the Grandstand.
As far as the food goes, this has been the best year yet. I enjoyed a roasted turkey, pepper jack, and honey mustard panini as well as a mozzarella, tomato, basil, and pesto panini. Both were perfectly acceptable (and a great alternative to regular fanfare) and the service was extremely efficient. I don’t think I stood on the line for more than three minutes before ordering from a friendly cashier.
Thanks to so many new shady spots, this was the first year I felt well enough to try the Indian food station and I am so glad I did. The samosa and Bombay bhel were delicious. The sizable samosa came with two flavorful, tangy, and spicy sauces. The Bombay bhel, a traditional Indian roadside snack, was so good I could hardly keep from shoveling it in. I’d be raving just as much if I had eaten this at a sit-down restaurant, so I’m awarding major points for this spot.
All in all, the new additions were an improvement over years prior. I was so engrossed in my Bombay bhel that I forgot to grab an order of seasoned waffle fries, my family’s favorite, so I’ll have to save that for next year. I also avoided Fulton Seafood’s measly, but pricey, lobster roll.
For more photography by Dane Feldman at the US Open, check out the US Open Ground 2013 photoblog.